By TAYLOR HARTZ
The Town Council voted at their last meeting to approve a new policy for alcohol on municipal property.
In an 8-1 vote, with Democrat Chris Palmieri opposing, the council approved the sale and consumption of wine and beer at the library, the Barnes Museum, the Calendar House, Gura Building Arts Complex, and the Historical Society building.
The sale of alcohol at these locations will require the approval of the boards that oversee them, and will require an event sponsor, such as a restaurant, caterer, organization, or individual, who has a Connecticut state liquor license and follows all state regulations.
The sponsor is required to have liability insurance and a “dram shop” insurance policy, which protects the establishment serving an individual who harms a third party.
The sponsor must present these policies to the town attorney’s office two weeks prior to the event.
Town Council Chairman Mike Riccio said any alcohol sales will be “handled the same way it is handled at a restaurant” located on town property downtown. The establishment would be held responsible, not the town.
Town Attorney Mark Sciota confirmed that the policy had been reviewed by the town’s insurance carrier and that no additional cost would be incurred.
Susan Saucier, Southington’s Director of Youth Services, and a member of Southington’s Town Wide Effort to Promote Success (STEPS), said she was “absolutely against this policy” and said the idea counteracted “all the work that numerous people in this community are doing to discourage underage drinking.”
Saucier spoke at the March 14 meeting and said she would be more accepting of the policy if it pertained to adults-only events. She questioned why wording couldn’t be added to the policy to make it adult-specific.
Similar verbiage had been suggested by Palmieri previously, yet had not been added to the policy.
During the discussion, Councilor Victoria Triano made a motion to add “adult oriented events” to the policy’s wording, but later withdrew her motion.
Chairman Riccio said that while the policy was targeted toward adult oriented events, it “would be foolish” to say children would not attend the occasional event held at these locations, specifically weddings at the Barnes Museum property.
Riccio said it was up to the sponsor to prohibit access to alcohol to anyone under age 21.
“We are responsible Southington adults who fully support the STEPS Program but live in a responsible adult society,” said Riccio.
The Chair said that the boards put in place to oversee events at these locations—the Library Board of Directors, the Southington Community Cultural Arts Board of Directors, the Historical Society Board of Directors, and the Senior Citizens Commission—would continue to promote STEPS assets.
Palmieri made a second motion regarding the addition of “adult oriented events”, but the motion was not seconded.
Councilor Ed Pocock made a motion to approve the policy as presented, and it was approved by the council.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Hartz, email her at THartz@SouthingtonObserver.com.